Admittedly, I am not the biggest fan of modern horror movies. Name anything from the 1960s through the 1980s and I’ve probably seen it, but since that era, the dependence upon special effects and shock has left me largely uninterested. However, when an A-list cast signs up to star, I typically pay more attention. Such was the situation with “Mary,” starring Gary Oldman (“The Darkest Hour” and “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”) and Emily Mortimer (“Mary Poppins Returns” and “Hugo”). Unfortunately, either the director or the material misled them or they were just looking for a different genre to indulge in a little actorly fun, but “Mary” doesn’t offer much that’s new or interesting, even if you love modern horror movies.
In “Mary," the patriarch (Oldman) of a troubled fishing family inexplicably invests everything they have in an ancient, dilapidated sailboat in a misguided attempt to force family bonding time on a maiden voyage to Bermuda. He is so determined to make something, anything in their lives work that his obsession with this old wooden ship and its strangely alluring masthead obscures its possession, as in supernatural.
An evil siren living in the wooden masthead of the boat quickly invades their nightmares, their handyman and even his own daughter’s thoughts and behavior. Finally, when even the youngest family member starts seeing, hearing and doing homicidal things, it becomes hard to tell what’s real and what’s imagined, who’s possessed and who's the possessor.
There are plenty of jump scares, but not much gore. Michael Goi is a television director and the writer of "Mary" also has a TV past, but they do fairly well in this case translating to the big screen. Mortimer has a meaty role and she does an admirable job with it, but Oldman is uncharacteristically lackluster. Ultimately, this Mary is anything but something to be proud of.